Law allowing guns in churches signed by Arkansas governor

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2013 8:28 PM

By Suzi Parker

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, signed into law on Monday a bill that allows concealed-carry permit holders to take their weapons into churches.

The Church Protection Act would allow individual places of worship to decide whether to allow concealed guns/">handguns and who could carry them. Churches that take no action will remain off-limits to guns.

The Republican-controlled House passed the bill 85-8 with bipartisan support last week. The measure previously passed the Republican-controlled Senate 28-4.

The law takes place immediately.

Gun advocates praised Beebe for his action.

"It is crucial to protecting the freedom of religion and property rights," said Nicholas Stehle, a member of the board of directors of the advocacy group Arkansas Carry.

"The state has no business meddling in the affairs of our churches," Stehle said.

Arkansas joins a handful of other states, including South Carolina, Wyoming and Louisiana, that allow guns in churches, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

(Reporting By Suzi Parker; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Todd Eastham)